Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hiking the Rim Trail and Dump Hunting!!

Once you arrive in the Grand Canyon, please don't just take one trip to the Visitor's Center, look over the edge and say "okay, I've seen it ... let's go"!!!!  I've actually heard that ... and it's sad that they never truly see what's so Grand.  There are trails of one kind or another along miles and miles of the South Rim.  I rode my bicycle (not allowed everywhere ... ) from Trailer Park to Mather Point, then east to the Kaibab Trailhead.  Some up, some down, all gorgeous.  Today however, I chose to walk from Mather Point, heading west all the way to the Bright Angel Trailhead, about 5 miles round trip ... give or take a mile or so.  It's all downhill, so you can't go wrong.  When you get to the Trailhead, you can take the shuttle bus back to the RV park.  This is Mather Point.  Beautiful flowers are everywhere!!
 There are so many trees along this entire route that I couldn't help but take picture after picture.
On down the trail a ways is Yavapai Point Geology Museum, which doesn't interest me much ... but the relief map inside does.  Did you know each mountain in the canyon has a name??  Like Isis, Buddha Temple and too many more to name.  The Trail of Time starts below here ... walking you back through millions of years of history, with examples of each type of rock you can see in the canyon.  Nice benches are placed often for resting should you need it.

This little guy posed for me while on the walk.  Sorry, he didn't tell me his name.
Still heading west and looking across the canyon, you can see The Lookout ... designed by Mary Colter, as was the Desert View Watchtower, Hermits Rest and the Bright Angel Lodge.  Blends in pretty good ... and yes, it hangs out to the very edge of the canyon.  Can you see it??
Kolb Studio is of course most interesting to me.  The Kolb Brothers, Emery and Ellsworth, were the first photographers to film their trip down the Grand Canyon in the early 1900's, as well as everyone who went down the Bright Angel Toll Road.  This is their original house, built over many years, barely hanging on to the edge.  Emery and his wife Blanche and his daughter Edith lived here.
Later enlarged by adding a small theatre room to show their movies, as well as other improvements, it was occupied by the family until the 60-70's, when the Park Service took over.  It houses a souvenir shop now but has art shows in the theatre.
The Bright Angel Trailhead is just to the left of the above building.  That's far enough for today, so I headed back to Trailer Village along a paved walkway, maybe a mile or so.  Like I said, never go without your camera, because you are going to see something you've never seen before .. like this buck marking his territory.  He crossed the path right in front of me, heading for several doe just up the hill.  It was then that both he and I noticed the even bigger buck!!!  He decided to let everyone know these girls were his!!!  He almost caused an accident as 4 cars came to a screeching halt on the road.
Flowers, flowers everywhere ... and these beauties are prolific.  With the recent rains, they are growing like weeds ...
Having heard about a dump site from the Old Grandview Hotel, I headed that way.  An old miner built the hotel when his mines quit producing ... it was one of, if not THE first hotel here.  Camera in hand, I traipsed cross country, zig-zagging back and forth from the edge of the canyon to the main highway to see if I could find any clues.  Might just find a treasure!!!  Zilch ... nada!!  Didn't find anything :(  But the wildflowers and views were pretty nice.
Heading down a huge gully and up the other side, I found my way down to a rock ledge, looking back at Grandview Point.  The hotel was torn down when the railroad came in and built El Tovar Lodge, replaced by a parking lot for visitors.
While standing on this rock, I felt like I was being watched ... gee, did I look that bad?????
Alas, after wondering around the forest for hours, I found no road or anything resembling a road, no cans, no dump.  Might be fun to bring a metal detector next time though!!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Canyon Views from Desert View and Lipan!!

The best thing about this time of year in the Grand Canyon is the monsoon weather.  The sky has been full of gorgeous cotton candy clouds and amazing sunsets that my camera just can't do justice to.  My favorite place to shop is in Cameron at the Trading Post.  Not really expecting to purchase anything, Patty and I moseyed over to take a look.  Gee ... I'm such a sucker for Navajo rugs ... and bartering!!  Tanya (who sold me the last Two Hills rug I purchased a year ago) was again there to offer her advice and give us some history on the weavers.  Okay okay ... I bought another rug.  I'll get a picture to show you shortly.  On the return trip, we stopped at my favorite place to shoot,  Desert View.  It is the eastern end of the canyon where a huge tower was built in the early 1900's called ... you guessed it ... Desert View.  A gift store takes up the bottom floor with a narrow stairway that climbs three stories.  You have to check out this building.  A Navajo native painted all the interiors with beautiful designs!!
As you can see ... it is definitely monsoon season.  It has rained on and off, but who cares when you can get images like this!!
Later that evening, Patty and I headed to Lipan Point as recommended by one of her employee friends. It is about a 40 minute drive from our RV's ... along the way we saw a gorgeous coyote, but of course the camera was in the case.  Elk are everywhere and have no fear ... so please drive the speed limits and watch for wildlife!!!  Here is the sun starting to set on the canyon wall opposite us, looking towards Desert View.
I do as little as possible in the way of enhancing these images.  I want them to look just like they did in person ... not surreal!!  As the sun goes down ... more of the wall is lit.
Just getting ready to drop below the horizon .....
This is what I come here for .......
More adventures coming up .....

Where to Stay You Ask??

I was asked if I could tell more about where to stay while visiting here.  Great idea!!!  Coming into the Park on Hwy 64 you will pass through the entrance station.  Be sure and get your Senior National Park Pass (get in free card) if you are old enough ... check them out online.  It's easy peasy to get in the park when you have your pass or prepaid entrance fees (otherwise the line can be long).  Continue on Hwy 64, turning left on Center Rd, right on Market Plaza, past Mather Campground and right on Trailer Village Rd.  This sign is the only one to guide you to the full hookup RV parking at Trailer Village.  Get your reservations online several weeks in advance .. they seem to fill up every night.
A few hundred feet and you will be at the entrance to Trailer Village.  You guessed it ... no place to park ... and signs saying No Parking.  Continue past the registration shack and park on the right (as in this picture) being sure not to wipe out the School Bus Stop (not that it would hurt ... it's already been hit!!)
Once registered, you will be assigned a site like mine.  If you find one you like better than what they gave you, I have seen them change sites upon request ... but mine was perfect!!  I have a 50 amp service, pretty bad tasting water (bring your own bottled water for drinking) and a sewer hookup.  But don't hook up your sewer line.  The Ravens around here are huge and love to cut holes in your expensive sewer hose.  Dump when you need to, but put the hose away!!!!  I lost two here last year!!
A very short walk cross country through the trees, or a longer walk down the path, will bring you to Market Plaza General Store where Patty happens to work.  They have good vegetables, lots of strange food stuff for people from other countries ... and lots of cool souvenirs to buy ... all of which are much more expensive than your local store.  My $6.00 jar of peanut butter is excellent and I will scrape every speck out of the jar.

A benefit of walking the "sort of" path through the trees was this beautiful bull elk I ran into ... literally!!!  Indeed, I spend too much time looking down.  I was on him before I knew it.  Good thing there was a big tree to hide behind.  His velvet is gone, meaning it's rutting time ... and they are not exactly friendly!!  He was about 5 feet tall at his shoulder.
I backed up slowly and went WAY around ... but stalked him for 15 minutes, trying to get some images.  Never walk around here without a camera ... you never know when you'll see the big one!!!
Bout the time he started grunting, I made a beeline for the denser forest, giving him a wide berth.  Sorry Patty ... the dip I brought home for you is a little melted, but it was the elk's fault!!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The GRAND Grand Canyon!!

Well I missed a couple days, but I did take off on D(driving) Day headed for the Grand Canyon in my new motorhome, towing my new jeep.  I can basically relax after the first 4 hours of driving (just kidding)!!  If it weren't for the construction on California roads, it would have been a relaxing ride.  Tehachapi was no problem, even getting in and out of my mountain home, Home Depot was a breeze.  Long ride ... 8 hours to Williams where I would spend the night.  There was a little drama in Kingman when I went in the Love's Gas Station the wrong way ... eeeeeek!! ... and again just before Seligman when the lightning struck the ground 100' from me.  Now THAT was a scary experience.  The crack made me deaf, the light made me blind ... but I kept on trucking through the pouring rain trying to figure out the windshield wiper switch.  When I finally got them turned on, it went in total slow motion.  Another 5 miles and I got it ... just in time for the rain to quit!!!

I arrived in Williams pretty tired, but thrilled I was able to get into my parking spot without hitting anything.  Granted, it was 30' wide and 65' long ... but I MADE it!!!  Just in time for this gorgeous sunset.
The next morning, I wasn't planning on heading to the Grand Canyon until noon, but just couldn't stand it sitting around, so off we went (my two dogs and I).  I called Patty and Dan to let them know I was 30 minutes away, and luckily they had not gone to work yet.  I pulled into Trailer Village (a little shaky due to the narrow road) and got parked.  Dan came right down and helped me unhook the jeep ... good thing, cuz I couldn't get the pins out of the hitch.  Of course Dan showed me the trick and guided me to my home for the next 3 weeks.  I actually got into this parking space too!!!!!  I'm so excited!!!!!  It's only 20' wide!!!!

Today, Patty took me on a little jaunt on a new path to the visitor's center, where we ran into 5 mule deer browsing the woods.  Not shy at all, it was easy to get nice pics.
Armed with a map from the visitors center, I made out my schedule for the next 11 days ... hiking and biking the Grand Canyon South Rim.  I checked out Yavapai Point for sunset pictures, but since today is totally overcast, I doubt there will be any good color.  I did get a couple of images, but am not sure of the names.  I think this is Bright Angel Trail Canyon.  It's a little hazy here, but thankfully no smoke from fires!
You just can't imagine how beautiful this place is in person.  Believe me, the images don't do it justice!!!
As Dan has said in his blog, getting internet service is tough.  In trade for using his router, I have become Nanny to Miss Sami so she can be fed and walked on her normal schedule.  Hopefully I will get to post every day about this time.  Excited about tomorrows hike ... hope I have some good images for you!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Down to Two Days .....

Today was Day Three and it was a busy one.  Here's what went on .....

Fed everyone early
Hooked up horse trailer for trip to Vet
Took Remy horse to Vet in Turlock for x-rays (the fetlock is looking better, but still needs meds)
While there, had him sedated and dental work done ... with an electric drill!!!!  Poor Baby
Waited for him to sober up so he could ride safely home
Met the horseshoer who trimmed both horses for me
Cleaned up the stinky mess
Moved the RV in order for extra hay to be delivered and stacked
Finished two loads of laundry so I'll have clean clothes for the trip
Got groceries
Checked the RV batteries for water and topped them off
Checked the Def tank level ...
Fitted the wheel covers on the horse trailer so the new tires will last longer
Gathered all the camera equipment
Downloaded and installed the new topographical map on my handheld GPS (2 hours)
Checked the fit of the new wheel covers for the RV (they were good)
Loaded about half my clothes in the RV
Got dog food, treats, canned food, tennis balls, leashes and "dog stuff" loaded

It's 8:00 and I'm finally sitting down to rest.  More work tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Four Days 'Til Liftoff !!!!!

Four days til "D" day and I'm still working on my list.  Today was fuel day.   The thought of driving up to a gas station and trying to figure how to get in and out is high on my list of stressful situations!!!!  After stressing for two hours this morning I decided to just bite the bullet and go.   Happily, I AM getting better about driving ... only took me 15 minutes to relax this time!!!

The cheapest fuel around here is at the Quik Stop in Livingston.  As I pulled in, there was a tour bus in the truck island ... that made me feel better until all the people on it starting pointing as I got out to go inside.  I didn't know if something was wrong with the RV or it was just me!!

One really nice bonus of fueling up at a truck island (this was my first time doing so) was that the fuel nozzle is larger than normal.  It didn't take any time at all to fill the tank.  I almost had a heart attack when I went inside however to pick up the $300 bill!!!!!  I know, I'll get used to it .... maybe!!!!

All done I headed back home and backed it in on the first try!!!  I take this as a sign of a great problem-free trip.  Back to my list making ...........  Next up the grocery store!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Countdown Begins!!

Five days until I take off for the Grand Canyon!!  So much to do ... and every day the list gets longer.  I'm a big believer in lists since my memory seems to be lacking and when I cross something off, it makes me feel like I'm getting there!!!  Since I can't take my horses with me, a friend is going to live here while I'm gone.  So far I have gotten extra feed for the horses, dog food for the dogs and bird food for Jonathan.  One of the horses will still require medication, so that had to be set up also.  Horses need their feet trimmed every 6-8 weeks, so that appointment has been made for this week, as has the hoof x-ray appointment so see how he is doing.

The RV needed a wash very badly.  I did find a truck wash about 15 miles away, but being the cheap person that I am, I decided to save the $40 and wash it myself.  BIG mistake ...  I started at 7:00 this morning (85 degrees out) and finished 2-1/2 hours later (95 degrees).  Dragging the ladder around climbing up and down every two feet totally wore me out, let alone washing and drying this thing.  I'm sure they would have done a much better job and been well worth the $40!!!!
Next on my list was a handheld Garmin GPS with topographic maps to use at the Grand Canyon as well as on my horse camping trips.  Talk about a frustrating venture.  I purchased the Garmin 550t at a huge fishing hunting store, where I was told I could return it if it did not meet my needs.  After discovering that I needed to purchase an additional map for $100, I returned it.  Well sort of ... they didn't WANT to take it back.  After some "discussion", they agreed to give me a store credit.  This was a very expensive unit ... lets just say well over $400 ... and I will NEVER spend that much in this store.  It was suggested that I get a different model ... but no way was I going to buy it here.  I went to my favorite REI store where I can return anything.  Should have gone here first, but at the time, they did not have the one I wanted.  So off to Fresno ... I came home with the new less expensive model.  Upon hooking it up to my computer, it said I needed 3-4 updates.  Really????  It's a brand new unit!!!  The problems started when I went to download the FREE 24K topographic map of California and Nevada.  "Not enough memory".  I won't go into the words I said ... but this morning I called Garmin and expressed my displeasure.  They agreed to send me a new micro sd card for free so the maps could be downloaded.  However, I needed to purchase a $30 DVD of maps in order to get the ones I needed.  It figures ..... that done, after a couple of hours, it dawned on me that the Grand Canyon won't be included on any of these maps, because that's Arizona, and that's another $30!!!   Needless to say I'm not real happy.  Not sure whether to return this one or not!!
I haven't even started to think about food or clothes ... since those are pretty important, I better get busy on those lists.  5 days and counting .........

Thursday, August 9, 2012

More Horse Play!!!

One of the most beautiful places in California's High Sierras is the Emigrant Wilderness surrounding Sonora Pass.  Having ridden at Clark's Fork, my friend Sandy wanted to check out another location that she had packed to many years ago ... Coyote Meadow.   On short notice, I grabbed my sleeping bag and saddle, along with a little food and water.  The plan was for me to sleep in the back of Sandy's truck and for her to sleep in the horse trailer.  This area is known for its black bears, and I'm not taking ANY chances!!!  A close encounter with a grizzly mother and cub in Yellowstone, put the fear in me (but that's another story) and NO WAY was I sleeping on the ground.

Heading up Highway 108 past Sonora, we turned off at Herring Creek down a one way paved (not really) road, which turned to gravel and after an hour, became a Rubicon Jeep trail with huge rocks and even bigger gullies.  At the trails end was the horse camp ... well not really ... a fire ring was the only indication of a camp site.  There are no facilities of any kind.
We rode out the first day on a five mile loop to the top of the ridge and returned on the rode we drove in on.  In the "old" days, my family had government grazing rights to the southern Sierra Mountains and drove 2-300 head of cattle to the mountains every year.  Literally 50 years later, the same grazing is allowed in this area.  To make it easier to find the "leader of the pack", we placed a bell around the neck of one or two cows.  These days, they bell almost EVERY cow ... you can imagine my surprise when I rounded a sharp corner and heard a clatter like no other ... running head on into 30 head of belled cows!!!  The horses didn't appreciate it much either.

Back at camp, it's time for feeding the horses and us.  A little boiling water for coffee along with a package of mac and cheese was a quick dinner for us.  We spend more time taking care of the horses than ourselves!!
Next morning we headed out bright and early for what would be about a 15 mile trip.  We are pretty heavily loaded with food, mosquito spray, water for us and for the horses, side cutters, hoof picks, grain for the horses, first aid kit, more water, jackets, ponchos, pain killer for horses (just in case), extra ropes, kleenex (there are NO restrooms), a collapsible water bucket for the horses, matches, maps, lights and a couple of pocket knives.  When you are this far back in the high country, you need to be prepared.  You would be surprised how many times you need a poncho in a downpour, extra water and food for people you meet on the trail that have none and are lost, side cutters to cut the wire your horse stepped in and extra water because the creek dried up.  Here's Sandy and Patches!!
The first meadow was Horse and Cow Meadow (don't ask me how these places get named ..... )   then on to Cooper Meadow.  The meadows up here are huge and seem to go on forever.  The only problem is a lack of water, this being a drought year.  We did find pockets in small creeks with enough water for the horses.  A collapsible cup came in handy to fill the bucket so the horses could drink.
Hay Meadow was next ... the largest that we saw ... with a wide creek meandering through the middle. Although there was plenty of water for our horses, the creek was not running.  I imagine in the next couple of weeks it will dry up completely.
Riding over the last mountain pass, we ended up in Whitesides Meadow.  On the way, we caught site of two huge deer, but they didn't hang around long enough for a picture.  Thankfully we didn't run into any bear on this trip, although we think we found a large cave-like den in the side of the mountain.  We THINK because I wasn't about to go near it to find out for sure!!!  Good ole Petey here, and me of course, letting them catch their wind on a steep hill.  The return trip was uneventful but the scenery spectacular.  We ran into one cowboy pushing some cows off the ridge and two elderly hikers in 15 miles ... that was it!!  Just the horses and us ..... good times!!!
I'm still medicating my horse at home and he seems to be doing better, so I'm packing for the trip to the Grand Canyon.  I'm so excited to be meeting up with my friends Patty and Dan!!!
Until next time ..... Happy Trails!!!!!